A multi-state examination of the victims of fatal adolescent intimate partner violence, 2011-2015

J Inj Violence Res. 2020 Jan;12(1):73-83. doi: 10.5249/jivr.v12i1.1197. Epub 2019 Dec 18.


Background: Fatal intimate partner violence occurs among adolescents, which is often when first exposure to intimate partner violence occurs in the United States. However, research mainly examines intimate partner violence-related fatalities between adult intimate partners. Such findings document that non-intimate partners, corollary victims, are at risk for violence during intimate partner violence incidents, as well. Research examining fatal intimate partner violence among adolescents is scant. This study informs public health of the extent and circumstances of fatal adolescent intimate partner violence by quantifying the burden across a five-year span; describing fatal victims by demographics and precipitating circumstances; and examining differences by victim type.

Methods: This study used data from 17 states of the United States in the National Violent Death Reporting System to examine fatal intimate partner violence-related incidents involving at least one adolescent intimate partner (15-19 years of age) from 2011-2015. IPV-related death cases were guided by the intimate partner violence surveillance criteria prescribed by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Decedents were subdivided into intimate partner victims, perpetrator victims, and corollary victims. Victims were described by demographics, victim descriptors, and precipitating circumstances of death. Annual trends and descriptive statistics were calculated.

Results: There were 93 intimate partner violence-related fatal incidents among adolescents with 116 decedents. A firearm was the predominant weapon. Crises, arguments, jealousy, and physical fights were common precipitating circumstances. Corollary victims represented 18% of all victims, 65% were intimate partner victims, and 17% perpetrator victims. Corollary victims were primarily linked to the suspect by other intimate partners, and friends and acquaintances.

Conclusions: Intimate partner violence is a preventable public health problem. This study documents that intimate partner violence among adolescents can result in deaths of intimate partners and corollary victims. Effective prevention should begin in early adolescence and incorporate shared and protective risk factors to have the greatest impact on adolescent IPV.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology
  • Cause of Death
  • Female
  • Homicide / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Intimate Partner Violence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Population Surveillance*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Distribution
  • Sexual Partners
  • United States
  • Wounds and Injuries / mortality*